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Author Topic: How to live in the U.S with HIV as a non-citizen  (Read 1313 times)

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Offline wonderwall

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How to live in the U.S with HIV as a non-citizen
« on: November 09, 2010, 01:07:37 AM »
Hello there. Thanks for your time to read my concern.

My name is Paul, I am 21 years old and I'm currently visiting South Korea since June.
I have a Korean nationality but have been studying in the U.S for 5 years now.

I go to college in New York, and am going back to the city this coming January.

I originally came back to Korea to serve my country for 20 months as a duty of a Korean man which is required responsibility If you are a Korean citizen. However, I found out that I am HIV positive in July from the military's mandatory blood test. In Korea, If you are HIV positive, you get automatically released, and you no longer have to serve anymore by law. So they led me get away from the military.

I was in shock when i found out, of course, that I got infected, but initially all I could think about was how to live well with this Virus in my body the rest of my life before scientists find out how to cure this. It did not shock me as much because I have seen so many people living very healthy with this, and I knew that negativity does not help me at all no matter what.

Since that big news, I have been seeing a doctor here to find out more about my health status.
My T cell count was 560 and viral load was 60,000. This Korean doctor told me I do not need to start the therapy at the moment, but will have to start it when I arrive in NY.

But here was my concern. When I researched about how much Atripla costs in the States, without an insurance it costs about $1,800 a month. I can get a traveler's insurance here in Korea, but I am negative the company will cover my HIV meds. Paying $1,800 + Rent + Living expense in the city will just be too much to afford. Also, I did not think these organizations to help people with HIV pay their meds will help non-citizens.

I would appreciate If there is anyone who can give me some advice how to live as a foreigner in the States.
How to pay for the meds, and things I need to know.

When I was in despair, I found this website from Google. Since then I have been reading people's posts sharing their experience with things like mine. It gave me such a big comfort, and I hope there will be someone who can get help from my post as well.

Have a wonderful day, and again thanks for reading this.

All the best,
« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 01:31:50 AM by wonderwall »

Offline BT65

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Re: How to live in the U.S with HIV as a non-citizen
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2010, 05:46:56 AM »
Hi Paul,

I'm not speaking for all the States, but here in Indiana, they have a medical services program that will help people regardless if the person's a citizen or not.  They have several people on it who are not US citizens. Like I said, I don't know how the other states do it, but maybe someone with more knowledge about New York's HIV medical services will come along.
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Offline komnaes

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Re: How to live in the U.S with HIV as a non-citizen
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2010, 07:26:00 AM »
Hi Paul

Sorry that you need to join us, but as you said negativity won't help and one can indeed still live a very productive live while dealing with HIV as a chronic condition.

To pay for your own meds is indeed very expensive, and you still haven't added the regular tests you need a few times a year (at the least, CD4 and viral load). While I am not from NYC, maybe you would need to give us a bit more info before others can help. I understand that you returned to Korea to serve your mandatory military service after 5 years of studying there. But did you finish your course/degree and plan to return and enroll another program? Or did you ask for a suspension as some of my Korean friends did while they were still in the middle of a degree course, etc?

I ask because I know that all international students need to have health insurance as part of the admission process, meaning you should have insurance cover while you were studying in the US. Was it the case? If so, and if you haven't completely discontinued your study to come back to Korea, you should still be covered. I am not entirely sure how it works - but if you only suspended your study you should check whether you could still be covered by the original insurance scheme, if you did have one.

Best, Shaun
Aug 07 Diagnosed
Oct 07 CD4=446(19%) Feb 08 CD4=421(19%)
Jun 08 CD4=325(22%) Jul 08 CD4=301(18%)
Sep 08 CD4=257/VL=75,000 Oct 08 CD4=347(16%)
Dec 08 CD4=270(16%)
Jan 09 CD4=246(13%)/VL=10,000
Feb 09 CD4=233(15%)/VL=13,000
Started meds Sustiva/Epzicom
May 09 CD4=333(24%)/VL=650
Aug 09 CD4=346(24%)/VL=UD
Nov 09 CD4=437(26%)/VL=UD
Feb 10 CD4=471(31%)/VL=UD
June 10 CD4=517 (28%)/VL=UD
Sept 10 CD4=687 (31%)/VL=UD
Jan 11 CD4=557 (30%)/VL=UD
April 11 CD4=569 (32%)/VL=UD
Switched to Epizcom, Reyataz and Norvir
(Interrupted for 2 months with only Epizcom & Reyataz)
July 11 CD=520 (28%)/VL=UD
Oct 11 CD=771 (31%)/VL=UD(<30)
April 12 CD=609 (28%)/VL=UD(<20)
Aug 12 CD=657 (29%)/VL=UD(<20)
Dec 12 CD=532 (31%)/VL=UD(<20)
May 13 CD=567 (31%)/VL=UD(<20)
Jan 14 CD=521 (21%)/VL=UD(<50)

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: How to live in the U.S with HIV as a non-citizen
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2010, 10:56:36 AM »
Paul/wonderwall:  if I were you, once I arrived in NYC I'd go to GMHC which is the largest AIDS service organization in the city and sit down with a case manager.  I assume you have a student visa or something as you've already been studying there.  Like komnaes states you should already have some sort of student medical coverage, but you'll need an "expert" to look over your unique situation to see how it would interact with local services, etc.


GMHC would have you register as a client, and they also have their own Legal Services Division that can help you with anything of that nature.
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